A new format for the Metro Conference softball tournament has some twists that promise to make the second and third days more interesting.
Instead of the standard 1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, etc. first round, seeds 9 through 16 will play Thursday at the Lied Softball Complex in Bellevue. The winners of those four games will go into one of the four three-team pools hosted Saturday by the top four seeds.
Two of those four pools will be played at Papillion's Halleck Park. Top seed Papillion-La Vista hosts Pool A on Volunteer Field with Omaha Central and either Bellevue West or Omaha Bryan. No. 3 seed Papillion-La Vista South will host Omaha Benson and either Bellevue East or Omaha South on Blondie Field a few strides west.
The other two sites are Millard South, where the No. 2 Patriots will host Millard North and either Omaha Westside or Omaha Northwest, and Millard West, where the Wildcats will be joined by Omaha Marian and Thursday's Omaha Burke-Omaha North winner.
Teams that win those pools will play in the semifinals Monday at Westgate Field. The Papio-Millard West pool winners will meet at 4 p.m., followed by the Millard South-Papio South pool winners at 5:30. The championship game will follow at 7.
Having the semifinals on Monday is a change coaches have suggested for several years. The only tweak that I would have suggested is to play the semifinals at the same time so one team isn't more rested than the other.
Having this third-most important tournament — behind district and state — being played at six sites is a terrific way to infuse more interest.
Watt, Sweetland reach 300
Mark Watt of Lincoln Southwest and Rob Sweetland of Wayne have worked their way into the 300-win club.
Watt got to 300 Monday in the first game of a sweep of Fremont. No. 300 for Sweetland came Tuesday night in an 11-0 win against Columbus Lakeview.